A Night Herp in Mandai

Having a special permit to study the herptiles of the Mandai area, we were stoked to check the area out. We arrived at Mandai with high expectations and uncontrollable anticipation. IMG_6034The night air carried a vibe of a solid night awaiting us. We encountered a roadkill juvenile Malayan Racer (Coelognathus flavolineatus), which was collected to be sent over to the museum. We than heard an unusual call coming from a grove of trees. Suddenly the Greater racquet-tailed Drongos (Dicrurus paradiseus) start calling harshly and divebombing a large bird. It was a Buffy Fish Owl (Bubo ketupu) and he was not alone, he had a partner! Buffy Fish Owls are one of the largest resident owls in Singapore and it is an awesome hunter. IMG_9245This handsome predator has even been recorded taking on a Shore Pit Viper (Cryptelytrops pupureomaculatus). We continued on after this amazing encounter with these rare birds. We came upon a small stream where we found two species of frogs. Malayan Giant Frog (Limnonectes blythii) on the bottom left and a Black-eyed Litter Frog (Leptobrachium nigrops) on the bottom right. The Black-eyed Litter Frog was calling the night air was filled with the calls of at least 10 different individuals. The Malayan Giant is a massive frog and it has been seen clearing more than 2 metres in a single bound. The Malayan Giant is also one of only 9 species of amphibians that occur outside the nature reserves. IMG_6139 IMG_6071 We strove on hoping to encounter a snake. Ing Sind’s keen eyes picked out a flying squirrel (Most likely Iomys horsfieldi) at the top branches of a tall tree. As I rounded a tree to get a better view i came face to face with a sleeping IMG_6102Striped Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis caudolineatus). It was a massive individual, well over a meter and was quite robust. Its beauty was resounding and even though it is deemed a common snake, its beauty made us pause to gaze at its vibrant colouration. The Striped Bronzeback is one of 6 species of Bronzebacks in Singapore. Both this species and its cousin the Painted Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis pictus) are the only Bronzebacks that occur outside proper forest and can be found in grassland and suburban woodland habitat. IMG_6171We then trekked to a different part of Mandai where we came across 3 more species of amphibians. The first two were a Malesian Frog (Limnonectus malesianus)  and a Copper-cheeked Frog (Hylarana labialis). The Malesian Frog (left) is often mistaken for a Malayan Giant Frog due the similar size and coloration, however the key feature that separates the Malesian is a prominent ‘W’ on the back of the neck. The Copper-cheeked Frog (below)  can often be found perched low on branches that are nearby streams. They have calls that sound much like the sound of dripping water!IMG_9295 We pushed on a little further to try our luck and we were rewarded with an uncommon Golden-eared Rough-sided Frog (Pulchrana baramica). This little frog is stunning in both features and colouration. It was also a lifer for Sankar! This frog is uncommon to moderately rare is Singapore as it is restricted in its range.IMG_6156 Thoroughly satisfied, we called it a night and left extremely happy and eager for our next herping adventure.

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